Font Embedding and Licensing

May 13 , 2009 11 comments

Once upon a time…

I decided to redesign my portfolio site. Matt and I discussed the benefits of using SIFR vs having .jpgs for my sub headers. As the sub headers are likely to change, using .jpgs wasn’t the best option. So we started looking into SIFR and Cufón. I would love to use the fonts that print designers and large corporations can afford but most of my clients these days are watching their budgets and so am I.Dare I say fiscially responsible designer? ;) Anyway.. I started researching the cost of what it would be for me to use the beautiful font I found. This isn’t a new problem, Hello 2007, cue Richard Rutter’s blog post on WebKit now supports CSS @font-face rules.

House Industries’ policy on font embeding

So I wanted to use the lovely font created by House Industries but I looked into their licensing and the font I found cost: $140 from House Industries, unfortunately to use it on my site its going to cost me an additional $1500 because their licensing doesn’t allow embeding.If I wanted to create each art with the text that’s not a problem, I prefer using SIFR because it is better for accessibility. If I won the lottery I wouldn’t blink at the high price tag but unfortunately it is not within my abilities for my personal site, well maybe if I was a fortune 500 company. If I wanted to use the @font-face in my CSS3 then it isn’t even an option unless I theoretically bought a license for every visitor on my site? Gulp…so at the moment we’re limited to the fonts we can use at the moment (some good and some bad… I want more fonts to use please!)

House Industries’ policy on font embedding,
“Why don’t you allow embedding in your license?
A: We make embedding decisions on a case by case basis. For example, we will allow you to embed the fonts to send a .pdf to a printer or to a client for approval. However, if you want to do an email distribution .pdf newsletter, you must pay an additional embedding fee.”

“Q: Do you allow embedding in Flash?
A: We make this call on a case by case basis. Generally, we allow embedding if the text is static, but we charge a flat embedding fee that is outlined on our pricing page.

So I went to the pricing page…
Web Embedding Fees
Web embedding for generating read-only dynamic text (examples: Flash or CSS): $1500 per font or $7500 per collection.”

Um.. excuse me? $1500.. that’s a Macbook.I totally understand charging for what you design. As a designer I agree with that point of view. But with most clients they are watching their budgets and would drop their jaw on the floor if I asked them to pay $7500 for a font. policy

So a favorite font due to President Obama’s campiagn is Gotham.It’s owned by
Their EULA (End User License Agreement) use states, “3.1. Embedding. “Embedded Documents” are those which contain a copy of the Typefaces, or data describing the shape or outline of any part of the Typefaces. Embedded Document formats include, but are not limited to: Acrobat (or other) files employing the Portable Document Format (“PDF”); Cascading Style Sheets (“CSS”) employing the “@font-face” tag; Macromedia Flash (or other) files employing TrueDoc; and documents employing Web Embedding Font Technology (“WEFT”). You may not create Embedded Documents, except as expressly provided in paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3:”
So if a client came to me and wanted to use any font from I’d recommend it based on them not limiting their usage. Freedom, interesting thought isn’t it?

Veer policy

Veer’s policy is dependent on which font you buy. You have to read the EULA there and decide. A ton of research after finding the font you want. Don’t you think? I looked up one font, a “G-Type” and got this EULA.
This is what is listed on their grant license,

In return for the license fee paid Fontworks UK Ltd (‘Fontworks’) and/or its supplier grants you a non-exclusive license to use this font or font package (‘the Software’) on or for use by a maximum of 5 CPU’s (workstations), whether networked or not, connected to one output device (printer) at one location. Alternatively use may be on a single portable computer and associated printer. A copy of the Software should always be made for purely back-up purposes. If the font is required for use on machines in excess of the above numbers this can be achieved via simple multiplication, i.e. by purchasing further licenses from this site, or more economically (as volume discounts are included) by applying to Fontworks for an appropriate Multi-User, Site, Country or World Wide License. You can apply by e-mail, fax, post, ’phone etc.”

So you need to negotiate the usage of let’s say SIFR. Hmm.. that’s going to be a pain.Another email when that information should be updated on their site already.

A request to the people who are writing up the EULA’s

Can you please update your licenses to something designers and small businesses can afford? I’m not asking for free. I’m asking for reasonable and license agreements that don’t require us to ask if we can use it on our sites by contacting your company. Or I guess I’ll keep using Arial or Helvetica on my site until someone stops this outdated hamster wheel.


Wed May 13, 2009 at 08.25 pm

Grant Hutchinson

Cindy, I just wanted to clarify something regarding Veer’s font embedding and licensing policies. Since Veer represents nearly two dozen independent type foundries (G-Type being one of them), they cannot provide a single, uniform EULA across all of the typefaces. Each foundry supplies its own EULA according to its aesthetic mandate and organizational idiosyncrasies.

All of the typeface collections that are wholly owned or controlled by Veer (Jukebox, Mean Tangerine, Umbrella, and Cabinet) fall under a single EULA with consistent embedding and licensing policies.

That being said, I’m all for simplification of EULAs for the benefit of independent designers, small businesses, as well as educational institutions and non-profits.


Wed May 13, 2009 at 08.52 pm

David Kaneda


Great post and thanks for the investigation. I’m a bit unclear on your review of HFJ’s ( license - as I read it as the opposite of “free.” I could be misinterpreting, but it sounds like you would recommend them, yet they seem quite restrictive in their language. Could you help clarify? Am I being sarcasm-deficient?...


Wed May 13, 2009 at 10.05 pm


Thanks for clarifying it. I realize its a lot more complicated than end users will ever imagine. I just think its a market that is untapped because of the walls the difference licenses do not provide or allow.


Wed May 13, 2009 at 10.09 pm


The says if you buy it you can use it on your site. If you click on information on your font using font explorer it will tell you if you can use it as an embeded font.

The site says.. “3.3 Flash Files. For the sole purpose of creating vector graphics for inclusion on web pages, H&FJ; grants you a limited license to create and circulate Embedded Documents in the SWF format (“Flash Files”), subject to the following restrictions: (a) Flash Files must have “subsetting” enabled, to limit to the greatest extent possible the number of characters of the Typefaces embedded; (b) Flash Files must be “static,” not “dynamic,” as to prevent any party other than the licensee from specifying, selecting, copying, cutting, pasting or modifying the text that is displayed in the Typefaces; (c) Flash Files must be configured to “Protect from Import.”

I believe that as long as it isn’t importable and that if it is just a static text on the page. You can use it.


Wed May 13, 2009 at 10.39 pm

David Kaneda

Ah, yes. I suppose my real issue is an undying hope for font-face embedding, which is understandably still prohibited-


Wed May 13, 2009 at 11.59 pm

Chris Pacheco

It doesn’t seem to fair that we have to pay extra to use fonts we are already willing to buy to use on the web.

I was maybe thinking of buying a font from and they say that you have to purchase another license just to use sIFR, it doesn’t seem fair to spend double the amount just to use it with sIFR. And if you don’t have Flash your even more screwed as you have to have specific settings when you export.


Thu May 14, 2009 at 01.54 am


@Chris, yeah well its the old school way of thinking that is a bit frustrating. They are using something that behaves similar to the photo licensing model.I guess we just have to sit tight and compalin until something does change.


Sat May 16, 2009 at 08.27 pm

Mark Wubben

Hi Cindy, HF&J actually has a section on sIFR in their FAQ under point 20:

sIFR (Scalable Inman Flash Replacement) sIFR is a great technology that brings rich typography to the web through a combination of Javascript, CSS and Flash. To use an H&FJ; font with sIFR, purchase an additional single-computer font license for the webserver itself, and then configure sIFR’s file in two ways to prevent unauthorized users from accessing the system: first, set the allowedDomains array to include only the domain of your website (instead of “*”), and then set allowlocal to “false” before publishing the .swf to the web.

So they do allow it, provided you take all measures provided by sIFR to lock the Flash movie to a specific domain.


Sat May 16, 2009 at 09.16 pm


Thanks for finding that! :)
They are pretty far ahead of the mark than the rest of the foundries.


Thu Sep 10, 2009 at 11.27 pm

Jonathan Martin

And I thought I had a hard time matching outlined fonts to those in my library.  I have never even considered licensing.


Tue Apr 13, 2010 at 03.33 pm

Tim Arnold

The license for goes on to say (about @font-face):

H&FJ; is carefully following the development of browsers that support the @font-face tag within Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), and enthusiastically supports the emergence of a more expressive web in which designers can safely and reliably use high-quality fonts online. At this time, however, the delivery of fonts via @font-face constitutes the illegal distribution of our font software, and we therefore do not permit our fonts to be used in this way. [emphasis mine] The hosting of our font software by any server or other computational architecture capable of delivering web pages, or data used to render web pages, either in whole or in part, is expressly prohibited under our End-User License Agreement.


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